Think Local First is a non-profit society directed by a group of enthusiastic volunteers who are all small business owners in Greater Victoria. Our goal is to encourage people to patronize local businesses so we can keep Greater Victoria a vibrant, sustainable community and make it a better place to live!
Independent businesses contribute to creating healthy and dynamic communities. Profits don’t get sent to a head office somewhere else; they stay and get spent here. For every 10% of dollars spent at locally-owned shops and services, 25% more money stays in the Victoria economy. This change in spending is known as the 10% shift movement, which we at TLF work tirelessly to promote. It leads to the multiplier effect, as local businesses make their purchases for office supplies, garbage disposal, lighting, etc. with other local businesses. It makes a significant difference for Victoria. If we change our shopping behavior just that much, the results are proven. One recent study commissioned by the Canadian Union of Public Employees suggests that if all of BC made the 10% shift, we would actually create 31,000 more jobs and infuse $940 million in wages into the province’s economy.
Yes, we all have times when it is not feasible to shop locally. Shopping at a chain store doesn’t make you a villain. The thought is that “Think Local First; shop local when you can” will help you become more a part of the community. This is what the 10% shift is all about. When we as a city think local first, many sustainability and environmental issues naturally fall into place.
The local businesses in our city also play a huge role in making Victoria a place folks want to visit. Victoria would not draw as many visitors without these unique local businesses.
Four years ago, the Victoria DVBA gave us $1000 in seed money to launch ShopLocalVictoria and develop a logo and rack card. The uptake from businesses soon went beyond the DVBA boundaries and we were not eligible for further support. We also decided that our mandate was Think Local First, not Shop Local Downtown, and expanded our services to Greater Victoria. In 2013, we rebranded to “ThinkLocalFirst” as our membership has grown to include such a diverse group of businesses that ‘shop’ doesn’t fit any longer.
Our 3rd AGM was held at the Atrium in April 2015 with the generous sponsorship of Island Savings Credit Union. Our model follows that of Sustainable Connections of Bellingham, Washington, which in 10 years has successfully taken Bellingham from the lowest to the highest performing small to mid-size city in the nation for sustainability, with over 650 members. Katrina Scotto di Carlo of Supportland in Portland Oregon was our guest speaker. There were more business owners in the room (over 100 in attendance) than we have ever seen at any other event of this kind, including GVCC or Tourism Victoria mixers.
We run 4 events per year: our Annual General Meeting in April, networking mixers in June and October, and ThinkLocalFirst week during the first week of December.
Our membership benefits include:
- Low cost advertising opportunities;
- Listing on our website which consumers can use to search for local businesses by category;
- Engagement on social media (Facebook and Twitter);
- Member to member support through buying goods and services from each other;
- Building a community of local, independent businesses through mixers and communications; and
- Think Local First Rewards loyalty program.
Our Board of Directors is comprised of local business owners.
We have embarked upon this venture with over 180 member businesses and are expanding as more and more local businesses join together to support one another. If you’re interested in joining Think Local First Victoria or have in inquiry, please email us at: michele@ThinkLocalVictoria.com or complete the online application.